Civil Unions Test H&R Block, Nation

America’s contrived civil unions can be so taxing!

Just ask Jason Smith and Settimo Pisu, a civil unionized couple from Hartford, Connecticut.

The boys tried to file their taxes on H&R Block’s TaxCut Online website, but received quite a rude message: “We don’t support Connecticut civil union returns.” When will the internet learn manners?

Connecticut passed civil union laws over three years ago, but the national tax company has yet to update their online system. Instead, it directed them to a local H&R Block office or an “online professional,” which apparently costs a pretty pink penny.

The perfectly suburban Smith and Pisu are incensed. As they should be…

Said Smith via the ACLU:

This is yet another example of the many ways that civil unions just don’t live up to marriage. it really stung when I realized it would cost an additional $150 dollars to have our tax returns prepared. We’re saving for a house and hoping to start a family, so every penny counts right now.

The ACLU has already hopped aboard to fight and sent a letter to the company demanding their digital digs get an update. Andrew Schneider of the organization’s Connecticut branch lashed out at H&R Block, saying there’s “no excusable reason” H&R Block shouldn’t “shouldn’t make its products available to everyone.” That’s real. Even realer? ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Project lawyer Rebecca Shore’s broader analysis:

Indignities like these are a constant reminder there is no substitution for marriage. Nothing can replace the dignity and universal recognition that comes automatically when you get to say we’re married. In Connecticut, gay couples still can’t do that.

It’s absolutely astounding that situations such as these don’t arouse more national attention. As we saw in New Jersey, where civil unions were legalized last year, the relatively new institution simply doesn’t make the grade. Civil unions aren’t the same as marriage. They’re quite separate and quite unequal. As that state’s Civil Union Review Commission wrote, “Civil union status is not clear to the general public, which creates a second-class status.” Our government’s tenacious commitment to federalism and underestimation of same-sex couples causes a legal headache. And yet the Democrats keep pushing it as the most practical option. Ridiculous.

Calls to H&R Block’s appropriate representative weren’t returned by press time. We’ll let you know if we get word.
Update: We just received a response from H&R Block spokeswoman Denise Sposato. We added some emphasis:

We are evaluating alternatives to add Domestic Partner support to our TaxCut Online programs in the future. Please be assured that H&R Block values all of its clients and is committed to serving all clients fairly. We have been preparing America’s taxes since 1955. Clients trust H&R Block to be their tax partner and we will continue to deliver on this mission.

This is an industry-wide issue affecting TaxCut and our competitors, resulting from the federal government not recognizing the Domestic Partner filing status. With an online tax program, whatever the filing status is on the federal return is automatically deployed to the state return.

TaxCut Online suggests “working with one of our professionals, by phone or at one of our office locations” because interaction with one of our tax professionals enables the ability to construct several returns simultaneously, a feature that is not currently available with any online tax programs. In addition, we offer Online Office that enables users to access one of our tax professionals for tax return preparation from the comfort of their home. We believe these options offer a straightforward and accurate method to serve the Connecticut Domestic Partner filers.

Now, back to our previously schedule post: the Wikipedia map of the United States’ various gay nup laws – or lack thereof. Does that look United to you?